The Cabin In The Woods

Director: Drew Goddard

Notable Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White

Rating: R

Review:  The Cabin In The Woods: a true survivor.   Whedon and Goddard’s behemoth horror masterpiece waited out a 2 year shelving (bankruptcy and studio issues), avoided greedy suggestions of post 3D conversions, garnered massive audience acceptance…and even slayed a large majority critics?!  Hold the phone.  Do we finally have a true horror film both hard-nosed journalists and elitist fanboys can agree on?  Can’t imagine all this hand holding and Kum Ba Yah singing will last, but for now: Oh yes, we do.  Every once in a while a special piece of heart pounding terror comes along that jolts the genre with invigorated creativity and terrifying elements, surpassing any and all expectations.  Last year Insidious surprised us all with a chilling haunted house type tale and was welcomed into mainstream horror success as a result.  The Cabin In The Woods makes Insidious bow down in worship, not worthy of how terrifically efficient Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s script rejuvenates a struggling genre after years of mindless cut and paste cash in flicks sandwiched between mounds of remakes.  In the pitch black forest of unwatchable and laughable horror films, this tiny cabin shines bright as a glimmering beacon of hope for those who need it most: us.  Belief that there are still bright and original ideas floating around the genre can still be grasped with a shred of positivity, as we’re shown yet again what passion can mean for a film.  The Cabin In The Woods could only be achieved by people actually wanting due justice for their epic brainchild, not budging otherwise.  Good old’ fashion slasher horror splatters victims on the walls and evokes nostalgic moments from horror’s glory years, getting back to the scary story format instead of newfangled torture horror situations that have ruled since Saw‘s emergence.   But to call The Cabin In The Woods a traditional slasher…no, I must not divulge any secrets.  Don’t ruin your viewing with spoilers or research; just trust my enthusiastic adoration for all things Cabin.

Excited by the prospect of a weekend lakeside getaway, five friends escape to a secluded cabin in some very ominous woods.  In true horror form, each character marks a cliché: Dana (Connolly) the innocent nerdy girl, Curt (Hemsworth) the jock, Jules (Hutchison) the slut, Marty (Kranz) the stoner, and Holden (Williams) the intellectual.  How typical. But this humble little abode holds a dark secret, as evil beings are unleashed on the relaxing vacation for mysterious reasons.  Some sort of corporation has the entire house rigged with cameras, overseeing the festivities as our characters fight for their lives.  Vague I know, but if I reveal any more you’ll kill me, so let’s leave it there…

“Are we all sharing the same bad feeling? ….Screw it let’s get drunk!”

I’ve never been able to rationalize any movie being viewed in theaters more than once due to crazy prices or annoying audience members, yet I would jump at the chance to pay top dollar for another go at The Cabin In The Woods.  Not one weakness comes to mind when scouring this cerebral delight for blemishes.  First off, Whedon and Goddard created a commentary on modern-day horror by poking fun at silly clichés like the gratuitous nudity and stereotypical horror movie character stereotypes, resulting in major bonus points from fanboys.  Cabin In The Woods doesn’t have an ego though and avoids being pretentious, because every observation is sadly correct.  The script also utilizes fantastic horror comedy paired with appropriately timed musical tunes to keep moods light and enjoyable, balancing out moments of fear with some serious belly laughs.  Well written situational comedy can make or break a horror film, and a character like Marty worked perfectly as comic relief instead of being a dumb druggie distraction.  But, with a confident attitude and stellar hilarity, surely the scares would suffer…No?  Wrong again.  Tension was palpable and jump scares were inserted cleverly, even when a scene seemed safe.  Nothing was cheap, every instance is thoroughly planned.  Oh, and don’t forget about the gore!  An almost record-breaking 200,000 gallons of fake blood drenched this tiny cabin, giving horror fans something to gush over without even mentioning the multiple Hollywood worthy killtacular deaths!  The Cabin In The Woods exists as the total package, the real deal, the bee’s knees, the top dog…you get my drift.  Not often, especially in the horror genre, does a film display such masterful building from the ground up, but nothing could be possible without such clever implementation behind it all.  A horror script so flawless is the equivalent of seeing a leprechaun riding a unicorn,  which is just as enjoyably awesome (I’d assume?).  You think you’re getting some cheesy teen slasher knock off, but such an assumption doesn’t even scratch the surface of this screaming good time…

I’ll admit, Cabin is granted unfair playing grounds being given a proper budget.  Quality suffers not from poor acting, minimal set designs, and unfathomable CGI work which plagues other horror entries.  Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford were huge contributors to the overall comedy, as their characters had to find joy participating in morbidly revolting careers yet approach every second with chipper attitudes.  You might also recognize Chris Hemsworth appearing before the popularity of The Almighty Thor, proving star power speaks greater volumes in horror than any other genre.  If we aren’t laughing through important points as a result of proper rubbish acting, we can actually soak in the worth while segments.  Fran Kranz won me over as his portrayal of burn out Marty, whom I loved to death as a character every step of the way.  Paranoid and baked out of his mind, his opinion always drew a laugh and watching him react to spookier events under his clouded influence was genius.  Rivaling Jenkins and Whitford, Kranz pulls a heavy load for The Cabin In The Woods.

Just like last year, it’s rather sad knowing you’ve hit the peak of a genre so early. I can’t possibly imagine the luck of a rival film crafted equally complete, challenging now alpha male Cabin for dominance in 2012.  But, at least Cabin was finally released at all, so I thank the horror gods gathered deeply in the bowels of hell for their fiendish blessing.  The Cabin In The Woods is my Holy Grail of contemporary horror, a savior so enlightened all must respect the honest beauty those lucky enough to view are graced with.  We are not worthy to bask in such visionary ideas!  Faith is once again restored in a genre so unforgiving, mustering enough energy to make it through another year inevitably ending in low-budget exhaustion and shattered dreams.  Well, until the DVD release that is, in which case I can pop in one of the best horror films I’ve seen in years to replenish my will.  Screw it, I’m buying another ticket right now.  I’m not waiting that long for another watch.  And it kills me to end a review so vague still, but for the sake of general curiosity this write up has been kept spoiler free for the greater good.  Look for a revisitation in the near future when an acceptable amount of time passes.  Why?  Because Cabin deserves every single little delicious morsel of dissected praise, and by God I’ll give it.

Final Rating: 9.5 nightmare creatures out of 10

Take the opportunity for a Huff, Puff, and Blow something down joke Nato…give in to the dark side…


About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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